I have a great team at work. We are a pretty relaxed bunch and when James my supervisor was cool with me leaving at 3pm last Sunday I jumped at the opportunity. I’d already checked the forecast and it looked great. Light winds at last!! Bliss. It was due to be very hazy but I didn’t mind…I just wanted to be on top of a mountain in my tent!
I parked in the Coppermines Valley and started up the mine track to Levers Water. It was warmer than of late and for the first time this year I actually felt ‘hot’!
I had chosen Swirl How as I hadn’t camped there since last summer and it’s a beautiful summit. It takes a bit more effort to walk in but I was away in plenty of time to catch the sunset despite the long walk!
I passed the various mines on the way up. I love this area; I have spent many years exploring these disused mines and have a vast knowledge of what lies beneath. It is a myriad of tunnels and vertical shafts plunging hundreds of feet into the earth with real dangers….. (You have been warned!!! Do not enter the mines without prior knowledge as they have many false floors!!!)
On approaching Levers Water my thought was to pitch there and bugger walking any further… I knew I’d regret it if I did that though… I ‘manned up’ and continued along the side of the reservoir to the dreaded boggy section…I try to break my ‘walk ins’ down into sections as I find the process of eliminating them easier on the mind..and the back!
The boggy section was soon over and the horizontal path to Swirl Hawse was soon reached. The cairn here is huge! Years of people adding to it like a monument to their efforts.
The next section up Prison Band is the most enjoyable. It’s rocky and with some short scrambling sections. A little more engaging than the lower slopes. I break this down into 3 sections.. All soon to be over!! Then its brew time.
I approached the summit and walked into the hazy sunshine..A deep breath and relax. The views were stunning though a little washed out. The sun was threatening to sink behind a band of cloud so after some wanderings I found a good spot. The ground was weird! The top half centimetre was watery and below was iron hard with the recent freezing temperatures… I had to hammer my pegs in- bending 3 of them!
It was so peaceful. I took some photographs of the sinking sun. To the right of the sun I spotted something odd. I’ll let you decide what they were/are. They appeared like 4 comets… I have no explanation. They held my attention until they disappeared minutes later into the haze. They didn’t change speed or trajectory..Odd…
Then my peace was broken by a familiar and unnerving sound. I could hear the Sea King Chopper. Before long it was above me and heading toward Dow Crag. I watched as it hovered above the crag-I could even see the winchman being lowered to the obvious waiting casualty. I hate seeing this and I was saddened by the thought of somebody injured but relieved that CMRT and the chopper crew were there. I watched and waited and within 20 minutes the chopper was heading back my way toward Carlisle I assumed. I quickly got on my phone to a couple of mates from the team and was informed that the guy had suffered a broken ankle and was ok. I was so relieved…I probably would’ve felt really unsettled had I not known.
My attention turned to dinner and I was hoping that all the choppers and UFO’s would bugger off and distract someone else!!!
The diet was the usual!!! LWWF meal in a pouch with some Uncle Bens microwave rice. It was more than palatable I had some Eccles Cakes this time too to have later with my hot chocolate.
The temperature dropped as the sun faded and the sparkles started! My favourite time of night. You can ‘smell’ the cold. Everything takes on a darker appearance. I didn’t have my Sherpa Primaloft trousers which I now regretted as I wrapped my spare jacket round my legs-I could tell I would be in the bag soon!
The lights of Coniston were glowing warmly and my mate informed me that the rescue team were having a well earned pint good for them I thought.
I was just about to get up when I caught something out of the corner of my eye…I stayed still and to my amazement a little mouse had appeared at the side of my Jetboil..Cheeky! He spotted me and made a bee line for some rocks a few feet away. I got up and took the remainder of my rice near to where he disappeared.. I emptied the grains out and went to take a few pictures.
I got back and switched on my Luminaid light and lay snuggled in my bag watching for him. He showed pretty quickly and must have thought it was his birthday! He ran backwards and forwards stuffing his little cheeks! I didn’t photograph him as I didn’t want to disturb his feast… I warmed my wine gently in some hot water in the Jetboil and soon I was sipping ‘room temperature’ Merlot whilst watching the stars….and the mouse! Despite the frost forming on my sleeping bag the night was too pretty not to watch. I finished up had had a quick hot chocolate before cleaning my teeth…I sank back into my lovely warm bag and fell into a peaceful and undisturbed sleep…zzzzzzzzzzzz
I woke at 6am to the sight of the dawn approaching over Wetherlam. It was sooooo beautiful. The colours in the sky were amazing. I set about breakfast.. Porridge pot and instant 3 in 1 coffee sachets. They save weight and are actually quite good. Kenco ones are actually quite nice!
I crawled out of bed and went for a wee and a wash!!! On returning to my tent I spotted a very early walker with his Border collie over on the neighbouring summit of Great Carrs.
The day was looking like a beautiful one. I stretched and weighed up how bad the back was today! It was normal for me to be in pain so I just had my pain killers and set about breaking camp. I wandered around with my coffee.( I packed the Jetboil last so I could keep brewing up and finish the water I had hauled up!) It was such a lovely morning and I was on a day off! I decided to make a move and ring my friend Jude so we could get out on the hill for the day. The walk back was blissful-lighter pack! I headed along the ridge and dropped steeply from Levers Hawse to Levers Water and back to the valley.
Another brilliant night… Roll on Spring!